Lombroso, Cesare chĕ´zärā lōmbrô´zō [key], 1835–1909, Italian criminologist and physician. In 1876 he published a pamphlet setting forth his theory of the origin of criminal traits. In the study, later enlarged into the famous L'uomo delinquente (5th ed., 3 vol., 1896–97; partial tr. as Criminal Man, 1911), he compared anthropological measurements and developed the concept of the atavistic, or born, criminal. In his later works, less importance was given to that concept. Although the scientific validity of the concept has been questioned by other criminologists, Lombroso is still credited with turning attention from the legalistic study of crime to the scientific study of the criminal. Lombroso advocated humane treatment of criminals and limitations on the use of the death penalty.
See biography by H. G. Kurella (tr. 1911).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Crime and Law Enforcement: Biographies